The photon is the quantum of the electromagnetic four-potential, and therefore the massless bosonic particle associated with the electromagnetic force, commonly also called the "particle of light". Use this tag for questions about the quantum-mechanical understanding of light and/or electromagnetic ...

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If photons have no mass, how can they have momentum?

As an explanation of why a large gravitational field (such as a black hole) can bend light, I have heard that light has momentum. This is given as a solution to the problem of only massive objects ...
28
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4answers
5k views

What is the mechanism behind the slowdown of light/photons in a transparent medium?

So light travels slower in glass (for example) than in a vacuum. What causes light to slow down? Or: How does it slow down? If light passes through the medium, is it not essentially traveling in the ...
18
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4answers
3k views

Does a photon in vacuum have a rest frame?

Quite a few of the questions given on this site mention a photon in vacuum having a rest frame such as it having a zero mass in its rest frame. I find this contradictory since photons must travel at ...
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9answers
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How can a photon have no mass and still travel at the speed of light?

I've read a number of the helpful Q&As on photons that mention the mass/mass-less issue. Do I understand correctly that the idea of mass-less (a rest mass of 0) may be just a convention to make ...
30
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3answers
8k views

Does a photon exert a gravitational pull?

I know a photon has zero rest mass, but it does have plenty of energy. Since energy and mass are equivalent does this mean that a photon (or more practically, a light beam) exerts a gravitational pull ...
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6answers
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Do photons have acceleration?

Photons travel at the fastest speed in our universe, the speed of light. Do photons have acceleration?
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How can we interpret polarization and frequency when we are dealing with one single photon?

If polarization is interpreted as a pattern/direction of the electric-field in an electromagnetic wave and the frequency as the frequency of oscillation, how can we interpret polarization and ...
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3answers
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Is a photon “fixed in spacetime”?

From what I've read, according to relativity, a photon does not "experience" the passage of time. (Can we say there is no past/present/future for a photon?) Would it be better to say a photon is ...
6
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3answers
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How is light affected by gravity?

Light is clearly affected by gravity, just think about a black hole, but light supposedly has no mass and gravity only affects objects with mass. On the other hand, if light does have mass then ...
12
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3answers
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What is the relation between electromagnetic wave and photon?

At the end of this nice video, she says that electromagnetic wave is a chain reaction of electric and magnetic fields creating each other so the chain of wave moves forward. I wonder where the photon ...
10
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6answers
8k views

Why can't photons have a mass?

Why can't photons have a mass? Could you explain this to me in a short and mathematical way?
14
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2answers
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How does a photon experience space and time?

To an an external observer it appears that time has stopped for photon. But this relation is reflexive, so for an observer travelling with the photon it appears the universe has stopped everywhere. ...
15
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2answers
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Does $E = mc^2$ apply to photons?

Photons are massless, but if $m = 0$ and $E=mc^2$, then $E = 0c^2 = 0$. This would say that photons have no energy, which is not true. However, given the formula $E = ℎf$, a photon does have energy ...
5
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5answers
809 views

Does a photon instantaneously gain $c$ speed when emitted from an electron?

An excited electron looses energy in the form of radiations. The radiation constitutes photons which move at a speed $c$. But, is the process of conversion of the energy of the electron into the ...
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4answers
8k views

Amplitude of an electromagnetic wave containing a single photon

Given a light pulse in vacuum containing a single photon with an energy $E=h\nu$, what is the peak value of the electric / magnetic field?
18
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3answers
5k views

The exchange of photons gives rise to the electromagnetic force

Pardon me for my stubborn classical/semiclassical brain. But I bet I am not the only one finding such description confusing. If EM force is caused by the exchange of photons, does that mean only when ...
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2answers
425 views

How can gravity affect light?

I understand that a black hole bends the fabric of space time to a point that no object can escape. I understand that light travels in a straight line along spacetime unless distorted by gravity. If ...
13
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4answers
9k views

What would the collision of two photons look like?

Could someone explain to me what the collision of two photons would look like? Will they behave like, Electromagnetic waves: they will interfere with each other and keep their wave nature Particles: ...
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5answers
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How are forces “mediated”?

I hope this is the right word to use. To me, these forces seem kind of fanciful (except for General Relativity and Gravity, which have a geometric interpretation). For example, how do two charged ...
23
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10answers
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What equation describes the wavefunction of a single photon?

The Schrödinger equation describes the quantum mechanics of a single massive non-relativistic particle. The Dirac equation governs a single massive relativistic spin-½ particle. The photon is a ...
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5answers
3k views

Scattering of light by light: experimental status

Scattering of light by light does not occur in the solutions of Maxwell's equations (since they are linear and EM waves obey superposition), but it is a prediction of QED (the most significant Feynman ...
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6answers
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Can the photoelectric effect be explained without photons?

Lamb 1969 states, A misconception which most physicists acquire in their formative years is that the photoelectric effect requires the quantization of the electromagnetic field for its ...
13
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4answers
4k views

Do all massless particles (e.g. photon, graviton, gluon) necessarily have the same speed $c$?

I suppose there was a discussion already on speed-of-gravity-and-speed-of-light. But I silly wonder whether all the massless mediators of four fundamental forces, i.e. Graviton: $g_{\mu\nu}$ ...
7
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4answers
9k views

What is “pure energy” in matter-antimatter annihilation made of?

I used to read the term "pure energy" in the context of matter-antimatter annihilation. Is the "pure energy" spoken of photons? Is it some form of heat? Some kind of particles with mass? ...
1
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2answers
577 views

Is light affected by gravity? Why?

I would like to know if light is affected by gravity, also, I would like to know what is the correct definition of gravity: "A force that attracts bodies with mass" or "a force that attracts bodies ...
45
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4answers
9k views

If I'm floating in space and I turn on a flashlight, will I accelerate?

Photons have no mass but they can push things, as evidenced by laser propulsion. Can photons push the source which is emitting them? If yes, will a more intense flashlight accelerate me more? Does ...
44
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7answers
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Photons from stars--how do they fill in such large angular distances?

It would seem that far-away stars are at such a distance that I should be able to take a step to the side and not have the star's photons hit my eye. How do stars release so many photons to fill in ...
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5answers
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Explain reflection laws at the atomic level

The "equal angles" law of refection on a flat mirror is a macroscopic phenomenon. To put it in anthropomorphic terms, how do individual photons know the orientation of the mirror so as to bounce off ...
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3answers
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Speed of light in a gravitational field?

How do I solve the speed of light in gravitational field? Should I just add gravitational acceleration in speed of light? $$c'=c_0+g(r)t~?$$
9
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5answers
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Spontaneous pair production?

So I've been looking into particle-antiparticle pair production from a gamma ray and don't understand one thing. Let's say I have a 1,1 MeV photon and it hits a nucleus - electron-positron pair with ...
5
votes
4answers
474 views

Slit screen and wave-particle duality

In a double-slit experiment, interference patterns are shown when light passes through the slits and illuminate the screen. So the question is, if one shoots a single photon, does the screen show ...
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0answers
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Can the intensity distribution behind edges and slits be explaint by the interaction with the surface electrons of the edges?

Reading about diffraction of EM radiation on edges, slits and multi slits as well as about electron diffraction behind a wire I came to the conclusion that the intensity distributions on an observers ...
15
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2answers
1k views

Redshifted Photon Energy

A photon emitted from a receding source (Doppler redshift) has less energy when detected at an observer's location. Please explain the energy loss from the perspective of energy conservation.
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3answers
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photons in expanding space: how is energy conserved? [duplicate]

If a photon (wave package) redshifts (streches) traveling in our expanding universe, is it's energy reduced? If so, where does it go?
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2answers
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Virtual photons, what makes them virtual?

The wikipedia page "Force Carrier" says: The electromagnetic force can be described by the exchange of virtual photons. The virtual photon thing baffles me a little. I get that virtual particles ...
2
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2answers
353 views

How is wavelength actually related to space (/distance)?

Is a photon of 400nm in wavelength "smaller" than a photon of 1km in wavelegth?
2
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3answers
1k views

If electromagnetic fields give charge to particles, do photons carry charge?

As I understand these two statements: An electromagnetic field gives particles charge A photon is a quantum of electromagnetic field It must mean that a photon carries charge. But I guess it isn't ...
29
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6answers
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Do photons gain mass when they travel through glass?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that photons slow down when travelling through glass. Does this mean they gain mass? Otherwise, what happens to extra kinetic energy? I understand now ...
28
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5answers
4k views

Why is the $S_{z} =0$ state forbidden for photons?

If photons are spin-1 bosons, then doesn't quantum mechanics imply that the allowed values for the z-component of spin (in units of $\hbar$) are -1, 0, and 1? Why then in practice do we only use the ...
13
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3answers
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What exactly is a quantum of light?

I am currently trying to learn some basic quantum mechanics and I am a bit confused. Wikipedia defines a photon as a quantum of light, which it further explains as some kind of a wave-packet. What ...
13
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5answers
740 views

What longest time ever was achieved at holding light in a closed volume?

For what longest possible time it was possible to hold light in a closed volume with mirrored walls? I would be most interested for results with empty volume but results with solid-state volume may ...
4
votes
4answers
820 views

Why do lasers require mirror at the ends?

Laser uses mirrors to reflect photons in order to stimulate atoms to emit photons, but why this is so?. I mean, why does a photon stimulate atoms to produce more photons? If a photon made an atom to ...
7
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3answers
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How do photons know they can or can't excite electrons?

This might be a stupid question, but nonetheless, it has been bothering me. If you take a photon, make it go through some atoms in a solid, liquid or whatever, then you have the chance of this photon ...
3
votes
2answers
492 views

Why do light disappears the moment we switch off the source (inside the wooden box)?

I am failing to explain why light won't remain inside the wooden box in the following situation. I considered a wooden box closed from all the sides, with a bulb inside it. If we switch on the bulb, ...
2
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3answers
364 views

Why can colors be mixed? [duplicate]

We can combine colored light, creating other colors, at least in terms of visual perception. But how it the result physically "a different color" - if it is at all? Or is all this not a physical ...
39
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5answers
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If photon energies are continuous and atomic energy levels are discrete, how can atoms absorb photons?

If photon energies are continuous and atomic energy levels are discrete, how can atoms absorb photons? The probability of a photon having just the right amount of energy for an atomic transition is ...
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1answer
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How are photons “consumed”?

I have very little background in physics, so I apologize if this question is painfully naive. Consider the following thought experiment: an observer is in a closed room whose walls, floor, and ...
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1answer
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Why does photon have only two possible eigenvalues of helicity?

Photon is a spin-1 particle. Were it massive, its spin projected along some direction would be either 1, -1, or 0. But photons can only be in an eigenstate of $S_z$ with eigenvalue $\pm 1$ (z as the ...
4
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5answers
799 views

Does $p=mc$ hold for photons?

Known that $E=hf$, $p=hf/c=h/\lambda$, then if $p=mc$, where $m$ is the (relativistic) mass, then $E=mc^2$ follows directly as an algebraic fact. Is this the case?
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2answers
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The speed of light as it approaches a massive body

No matter how fast you go, you will aways perceive the speed of light as constant. Taking that as a fact, the special relativity theory was formulated. Now, for what I understand about general ...